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I was not expecting much from Crush after reading the synopsis on the back of the case that makes it sound like yet another Fatal Attraction rip-off for teens. Since Swimfan kind of sucked, I assumed Crush wouldn't be much better. Then I watched the movie and damn if this tricky thriller didn't entertain me. All-American high school athlete Scott (Lucas Till) catches all the girls' eyes, but one in particular is a bit off her rocker. Recent transfer student Bess (Crystal Reed) is reserved and awkward and seems to have an unhealthy obsession with Scott. Crush is full of interesting, duplicitous characters, and the protagonist is actually a likeable guy. Director Malik Bader crafts a quick, nicely shot drama with plenty of twists and turns and some interesting character explorations. Crush is much better than the average teen thriller and should entertain those outside that age bracket.
High school senior Scott badly injures his knee while running drunk outside a house party and sees his dream of earning a college scholarship begin to slip away. While rehabbing his knee, Scott continues to dodge pushy friend Jules (Sarah Bolger), who wants a romantic relationship, and begins to realize Bess might not be so easy to ignore. Bess spends her nights checking Scott's social networking profiles and dreaming of joining him on dates. Bess tells her boss Andie (Caitriona Balfe) about her crush, and while Andie is sympathetic, she is shocked when Scott confronts Bess about removing some of his drawings from the trashcan outside his house. Each interaction between Scott and Bess becomes stranger, and Scott begins to fear that something sinister lies behind her quiet demeanor when bad things start happening to the girls in his life.
A lot of teen-centric, PG-13 thrillers pay little attention to the quality of their scripts and actors, so it's refreshing that Crush has both a decent story and good performances from its young actors. I always chuckle when thirty year olds are cast to play high schoolers, but Crush uses actors much closer in age to their respective characters. Scott, Bess and Jules actually look and act like teenagers, and Crush presents a high school experience much like the one I remember (minus the homicidal behavior, of course). Director Bader shoots Crush like a grown-up drama, which it is, instead of some YA-baiting MTV special, and the plot evolves toward an interesting conclusion.
Scott is a nice-guy lead character, and I like that Till plays him as appropriately apprehensive when things get strange. The friend/girlfriend stalemate between he and Jules is one to which many can relate, and Scott is a little dumbfounded when a former teacher slips him her phone number at a coffee shop. One interesting character tick is Scott's seeming lack of male friends; perhaps he has no time for anyone but Jules since he spends every waking moment swimming, running or working out? When someone spray paints Jules' house and posts revealing pictures of her on the Internet, Scott is upset that he cannot prevent the transgressions. It's a testament to both the writers and Till that Josh never seems like a douchebag despite all the attention thrown his way.
Reed does a great job as sullen, sad Bess, and makes it difficult to determine exactly what Bess is plotting behind her dark eyes. You sympathize with her character while cringing at her actions. At times I wanted to shake Bess and then give her a big hug. Bess also has a pushy friend in classmate Jeffrey (Reid Ewing of "Modern Family"), who eventually levels with Bess that he is the only person who isn't completely turned off by her weirdness. High school is tough, man. Things get pretty crazy as Crush moves forward, and I was genuinely surprised by how things wrapped up. Crush was a nice surprise, and I look forward to seeing what Bader directs next.
A note to viewers: Avoid reading the Blu-ray packaging; someone stupidly put some major spoilers within the text and pictures.
Shot digitally, Crush looks quite good on Blu-ray. The 1.78:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer is bright, detailed and sharp. Texture and depth are excellent, and Crush has a nice "HD pop" without appearing too slick or digitally sharpened. Black levels are good, as are skin tones, and colors are perfectly saturated. I saw no issues with banding or shimmer.
The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is more than competent to handle this dialogue-heavy thriller. Dialogue is crystal clear and perfectly balanced amid effects and score. The action and ambient effects do provide some surround action, and the LFE kicks in when necessary. An English 2.0 Dolby Digital track is also included, and English SDH and Spanish subtitles are available.
The only extra is The Making of Crush (21:10/HD), a decent production featurette with cast and crew interviews and on-set footage.
I review a lot of movies for DVD Talk, so it's nice that every once in a while I watch a movie that turns out to be much better than I expected. Crush turns out to be an entertaining thriller with solid direction and good acting. This story of a high school athlete and an obsessed crush could have been another crappy Fatal Attraction retread for teen audiences but ends up a twisty thriller with its own personality. Recommended.
William lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.